Cheap travel has its allure – seeing and experiencing new lands while taking it easy on the pocket. When you’re young, sleeping on the floor of an airport or train station is manageable. As you get on in years though, a shoestring budget becomes less tenable.
You start to appreciate (or in my case, even need) little luxuries. Luxuries like your morning coffee, a soft bed to sleep in. You might not even be in shape any more to lug a haversack on a bus, and might opt to take taxis or an Uber.
As we become more accustomed to shelling out more for our travels, we also have to cut down on how much travelling we do. After our bank accounts take a hit from recent traveling, we have to take a break and save up before our next adventure.
However, there are little “tricks” you can use while travelling to cut down on costs while not compromising on fun or luxury. Let’s have a look at some of them shall we?
It all starts with choosing the right destination and at the right time
If you want to save money while travelling you can start by picking the right destination and more importantly the right time.
Destination-wise, you’ll find that popular spots usually have a lesser known “sibling”. Yes, a lower summit with similar stunning views, or a harder to access beach with just as much sun and surf. Because they’re less popular, you’ll get to save big on visiting these places!
Similarly, you should try to visit places during the off peak seasons! Sometimes, you merely have to wait a month or two before prices come plummeting down from their peak highs.
For an instance, some beaches around the world are jam packed during New Year or the holiday season. And for good reason – that when companies take a break for the year, kids get off school and the bright rays of summer visit the sandy shores of the southern hemisphere!
Now, if you were trying to be smart with your budget, you could pick a place to visit in the month of November. That way, you don’t miss out on weather, fun or other important factors. Sure, you’ll need to leave the office a little earlier than typical, but it’s well worth it. This is especially so if you are someone like me who doesn’t like overcrowded places.
Travel in comfort (but only when in counts!)
If you’re doing a long haul flight, then by all means – choose an option that will see you well rested after the flight. So pay a little more for leg room and get full service flights to take advantage of food and beverage.
However, if the flight is going to be much shorter (4 hours or so), you can save money by picking up a more economic option with slightly lower comfort levels. The amount you’d save is probably just as much as if you had taken a cheaper long haul in many cases. Furthermore, it’s not nearly as important to have the seats recline fully or have all your meals served on board since you’re travelling for such a short time.
Save here and you’ll be looking at some big wins! With the few hundred that you’ve saved, you might be able to do additional activities or add some more items on to your shopping list!
Get up to speed with Travel technology!
I have never hesitated to use apps and services to my advantage. There are so many out there created with travelers in mind!
If you’re looking for a list of the most essential apps to have, Mr Lender recently wrote a post on some of the best travel apps to use when you’re out and about and quite rightly so.
I often get a bunch of savings from web apps like booking.com. It basically aggregates different places to stay so that you can make easy comparisons. Furthermore, many of these places are competing with each other, so they tend to knock their prices down dramatically. You also get the option with some places to make a free cancellation. So you don’t have to feel like you have to go with the first available offer (which might not necessarily be the most affordable.
Accommodation covers up for a large portion of your expense when it comes to travel. So you can imagine how saving in this area can really bring costs down for your entire trip!
Take advantage of Exchange Rates
The values of currencies often fluctuate relative to each other. By travelling 1) when your currency is doing well, and 2) to places that are currently cheap, you’ll end up saving again!
For example, uncertainty of Brexit caused the British Pound to fall against the dollar last year. A savvy tourist could use this to their advantage and take a trip to Buckingham Palace then.
In addition, you could amass a certain currency over time. This is especially so if you know where you’re travelling to a couple of months in advance. Going to Thailand? Monitor the exchange rates 3 months out. Buy a bit each time the exchange rate falls in your favor – this can really help your travelling budget!
Join a Travel group
Travelling alone is usually more expensive as you have to pay for the cab ridesor pay for the room rent all by yourself. That’s why I advocate travelling with a group of friends.
Well, you can join any one of the many travel groups put together by professional agencies. For example, STA Travel and Contiki often put together groups of individuals looking for a similar experience.
By joining a group, you can leave the headache of logistics to experts and the group pricing can help you save enough money.You get to meet people who share similar expenses and can travel together, sharing cab rides and bringing down the burden of accommodation.
Be smart with Medicines
Commonly sought after medicines (aspirin, motion sickness meds etc.) can get expensive when it comes to airports and tourist related areas. Such places know that medicines like these are in high demand, and that customers are usually clueless about how much to pay in so and so currency.
Thus it makes a lot of sense to carry your own medicines when you travel to avoid paying a ludicrous amount for medicines. Some airports have restrictions when it comes to medications that are liquid in nature. Make it a point to figure out these rules and restrictions before you start packing.
Plan your cash usage
Usually, when you’re out of cash overseas, the simplest solution is to go to the nearest currency converter. Unfortunately, this option is usually not the most cost efficient.
Therefore, you might want to convert all the currency before you even take off. Also, be aware of how much you had planned to spend each day. And keep track if you’re running out of cash soon. Lastly, also keep some cash in reserve – I like to call it “buffer cash” – just in case you end having to shell out for random airport taxes etc.
All this planning is tedious, but it will save you a hurried trip to a money changer – who’d probably welcome you with open arms and dollar signs in their eyes!
Travelling is one of our greatest privileges. It’s also one of the best therapies for stressed people. You not only get to learn new things and cultures but also rejuvenate yourself.
While there’s a lot of value to travelling, it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. With a little bit of research, and proper planning, you can go a long way in saving money while travelling. Saving money can help you travel for a longer duration with the same budget or travel more than once. All the best!